New Pompeii finds highlight middle-class life in doomed city

New Pompeii finds highlight middle-class life in doomed city

ROME — A trunk with its lid left open. A wooden dishware closet, its shelves caved in. Three-legged accent tables topped by decorative bowls. These latest discoveries by archaeologists are enriching knowledge about middle-class lives in Pompeii before Mount Vesuvius’ furious eruption buried the ancient Roman city in volcanic debris.

Pompeii’s archaeological park, one of Italy’s top tourist attractions, announced the recent finds on Saturday. Gabriel Zuchtriegel is its director. He said that the recent excavations in the “domus,” or house, were revealing valuable details about the home of the ordinary inhabitants of the city. The site was first discovered in 2018. In the past, most excavations focused on the luxurious, lavishly decorated villas belonging to the Pompeii upper class. The archaeology at the site near Naples has shifted to the middle classes and servants. In the Roman Empire, there was a large chunk of people who struggled to maintain their social status. “Daily bread” was not a guarantee for them, Zuchtriegel stated. “A vulnerable class during political crises and food shortages, but also ambitious about climbing the social ladder.”

The finds unveiled on Saturday include furnishings and household objects in the domus, which was dubbed the House of the Larario for an area of a home devoted to domestic spirits known as lares. One courtyard is found in the 2018 home.

Zuchtriegel pointed out that the courtyard had an incredibly well-adorned, but unpainted, cistern. However, one room in the house had an empty wall and an earthen floor, which was apparently for storage. Archeologists discovered traces of fabric left from a pillow in a bedroom. The kind of bed is identical to three, cot-like beds unearthed last year in a tiny room in another residence that archaeologists believe doubled as a storeroom and sleeping quarters for a family of enslaved inhabitants of Pompeii.

The bedroom findings announced Saturday also included the remains of a wooden trunk with an open lid. The trunk was severely damaged by the impact of ceiling panels and beams that fell in the aftermath of the volcano eruption. However, an oil lamp with bas relief of Zeus the Greek god transformed into an Eagle was found within. Nearby was a small, three-legged round table, similar to the accent tables in vogue today.

Exposing the storeroom revealed a wooden closet, its backboard still intact but the shelves caved in. The closet was believed to have had four panels doors. It also held dishes and cookware for the kitchen. Excavators discovered a hinge in the enclosure.

Another object found in the house was a fragment of a translucent, rimmed, plate with brilliant colors of cobalt and emerald and an incense burner that looked like a cradle.

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